From Festive to Fasting: Diet Books Top the List of Worst Christmas Gifts Among Californians





  • Poll identifies the worst Christmas gifts ever received.
  • Half equate the monetary value of a gift with its emotional value
  • Interactive map showing the worst gifts received by state

Year after year, the Christmas sweater remains a proverbial punchline, nestled in holiday history alongside the lonely pairs of socks and the all-too-familiar bath sets. Yet, these well-intended but often misaligned gifts keep finding their way under the tree. From the strained smiles at receiving a beginner’s cookbook to the awkward thanks for a gym membership nudge, everyone's got a story. The classic self-help book, often more shelf-help, sitting pristinely untouched, is a testament to the gift that wasn't quite right.

Merchoid.com, the online gifts store for geeks, set out to reveal the truth behind the country's gift-giving gaffes. In an eye-opening poll targeting 3,000 respondents, they found out which gifts make us grimace rather than grin. California's results were as follows:

#1 A diet book or weight loss program membership.

The worst Christmas gift Californians have received was a diet book or weight loss program membership. Nothing encapsulates the holiday spirit like a booklet that questions your every culinary choice since Thanksgiving.

#2 A donation made in my name to a cause I don't support

Perhaps surprisingly, donations made in recipients' names to causes they don't champion are not particularly welcomed. But it's the thought that counts... unless that thought completely misses the mark. A donation in your name can be heartwarming unless it's for the Society of People Who Prefer Cats Over Dogs and you're staunchly pro-pooch.

#3 Personal hygiene products 

The Scent of Insinuation… This was followed by personal hygiene products - because nothing screams 'Merry Christmas' quite like a stick of deodorant or the subtle hint of mouthwash. More aptly put, "Merry Freshness" isn't quite the season's greetings we had in mind.

#4 Cleaning supplies or a vacuum cleaner 

The Soul Cleanser… Cleaning supplies or a vacuum cleaner  - because nothing says "I care" like an appliance that sucks up more than just holiday cheer.

#5 Self-help books that I didn't ask for 

Unrequested self-help books that make you question your life choices as you question the choice of the giver.

#6 A book on improving social skills or manners 

Books on improving social graces nudge their way into our lives, suggesting we might be one faux pas away from social pariah status.

#7 A cookbook for beginners 

Ideal for those who find boiling water a culinary challenge and consider toast to be avant-garde cuisine. This gift is perfect for the 'chef' who thinks a three-course meal includes a microwave and two different flavors of instant ramen.

#8 Office Supplies

Office supplies remind you of where you'll be heading back to once the holidays are over.

#9 A bulk pack of something mundane, such as socks or batteries 

The Bulk of Boredom… Bulk packs of the mundane—socks, batteries, the works—because when in doubt, buy in bulk?

Interactive map showing the worst gifts received by state (click on 'embed' to host on your site)

Merchoid.com didn't stop at merely cataloging the calamities. The decided to dig further:

  • The Thought That Doesn’t Count… Nearly a quarter of people (24%) feel that their partner's gifts are selected with a lack of thoughtfulness. The sentiment seems clear: it's high time for an upgrade from autopilot gifting.
  • Alarmingly, for 39%, a thoughtless gift has been a deal-breaker. A poorly chosen gift has not just fallen flat, it's flattened the relationship. Who knew that what’s under the tree could lead to what’s not meant to be?
  • A staggering 63% say the presentation influences their perception of a gift. A well-tied bow, it seems, ties strongly to the heartstrings.
  • Nearly half (47%) equate the monetary value of a gift with its emotional value. The investment in a gift might just translate to the investment in the relationship, it seems.
  • Two-thirds (65%) have received a gift that's led to a long-lasting change in their perception of the giver. It's not just about what’s inside the box, but what message it carries.
  • Lastly, 50% confess choosing a gift for the in-laws has 50% of people feeling the holiday heat.

We've all been there” says Simon Ward from Merchoid.com. “Smiling graciously while unwrapping a gift that makes us wonder if Santa got our list mixed up with someone else's. However, our findings highlight the joy of gifting - it turns out that a well-wrapped present can warm hearts, and while some gifts might raise eyebrows, they all make for great stories later.”

Story from Merchoid 


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